AI For Sales: The Waltz between Man and Machine

Olin Hyde
August 10, 2017

Whenever humans encounter a new problem, they usually find innovative, effective solutions to solve it. From vaccines to diplomacy, we’re constantly improving our skill at ironing out pain points to make life a little easier. Even better, we’re getting more interdisciplinary as we find ways to take what works in one realm and apply that same solution to a problem in another realm.

For instance, innovators have taken the OODA loop—which is a great explanation for a human’s reaction time and process—and integrated it with artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The OODA loop refers to the decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act. Combining the OODA loop with AI has helped experts develop innovative solutions for everything from medicine to marketing.

Here’s how the OODA loop, when combined with AI marketing solutions, can be a game-changer for multiple industries—especially lead generation.

The OODA Loop

To fully grasp how AI’s integration with the OODA loop can improve processes across different industries, it’s important to understand what the OODA loop is in the first place.

The OODA loop was formulated by Colonel John Boyd, a retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who fought in the Korean War. While teaching at the USAF Weapons School in the 1950s, he noticed how difficult it was to explain the decision-making process someone undergoes when reacting to something in air combat – which, in turn, made it difficult to teach. In response to this problem, Boyd created the OODA  concept, which made it easier for pilots to understand what goes into their reaction times and eventually improve them.

We define human reaction time as the time that elapses between something happening and the first moment we respond to it. For instance, it takes an average police officer 0.39 seconds to fire at a suspect aiming a weapon at them: that is the officer’s reaction time. In general, people go through the same process that makes up this reaction time: we observe the stimulus, orient ourselves by focusing our attention on that stimulus, decide what to do, then act upon that decision.

This solution for describing a human’s decision-making process during an activity isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, but it has a significant function: it turns something complex and unexplained into something simple and explicit. This change allows us to organize our thoughts and strategies to ultimately improve our reaction system, which was difficult to do before the OODA concept.

The AI + Human OODA Loop

After Boyd laid the groundwork, experts have been able to create a version of the OODA loop that incorporates the reality and technologies of the 21st century, keeping his innovations applicable to our daily lives. To incorporate more accuracy, speed, and overall efficiency for complex tasks, specialists created the AI + Human OODA loop.

The way it works is simple: a human observes and characterizes data input, AI orients by identifying patterns through machine learning, a human decides by confirming and filtering what the AI comes up with to improve accuracy, and then AI acts on that decision in the dataset.

What’s great about the AI + Human OODA loop is that it maximizes the potential of both parties, allowing humans to do what they’re best at and artificial intelligence to do what it’s best at. Humans are extremely good at adapting to environments and making nuanced decisions based on those environments, and AI is useful for pattern identification and repeating actions without making mistakes.

The proof is in this loop’s success – some who use this strategy for lead generation argue that they see a 40% increase in lead generation and a 30% increase in conversions within a few weeks after using it for marketing purposes.


Below are two examples of how this process works:

The renowned AI startup, Zebra Medical Solutions, is a leader in using the AI + Human OODA loop to improve health outcomes for patients. With an aging global population and over 1 billion people joining the middle class and using healthcare services, demand for radiologists is higher than the supply. Zebra Med uses AI technology to read and diagnose medical images, helping radiologists detect overlooked symptoms. This approach, which involves AI and human doctors working together, is quickly redefining the radiology industry.

New startups in different industries are using this method as well, replicating its efficacy. For instance, LeadCrunch has implemented this strategy to capture hyper growth revenue within the crowded B2B lead generation market. The company has AI-generated, highly-targeted leads, which humans then verify for authenticity. Using the OODA loop has helped LeadCrunch redefine what’s considered “cutting edge” in an otherwise sedentary, crowded marketplace with great success.

The Last Word—A Tool For Continued Improvement

Not everyone finds the AI + Human OODA loop effective – it isn’t some magic formula for any industry to implement. For AI-only applications, such as Google and Facebook advertising, the decisions being made aren’t necessarily life-or-death. So, they can be run with only AI and minimal human direction. Delivering the wrong advertisement isn’t going to make or break you, and you can afford to make mistakes to train the dataset in the long term.

But, in other spaces, like healthcare, the outcomes are critical, which means that humans need to be a more integral part of the decision-making process. For the healthcare industry, you can’t afford to harm patients by making a mistake. For the marketing industry, you can’t afford dead leads that waste time and effort. Using the OODA loop and AI helps LeadCrunch to continue to improve its processes for finding viable leads for its clients.

What are some other ways you see the AI + Human OODA loop being used?

Further Reading

Lainey Mebust
July 9, 2020
Lainey Mebust
May 29, 2020